Between 1596 and 1598 Goltzius engraved this series of twelve prints illustrating the Passion of Christ. They reflect the influence of the Netherlandish artist Lucas van Leyden, in both the figure types and the actual engraving technique. In contrast to his normal graphic style, which was characterized by a dramatic line that swells and tapers around the figures and background, here Goltzius uses thin even lines crossed with long straight hatching lines that are typically found in Lucas’s prints. In Northern Europe at the end of the sixteenth century there was a revival of interest in the works of Lucas and this series can be seen within that larger context. So, too, can Goltzius’s famous Pietà modeled after Albrecht Dürer and the Circumcision and the Adoration of the Magi from his series the Life of the Virgin. The Passion of Christ was extremely popular during Goltzius’s own lifetime and well beyond. This is evidenced by a very deceptive set of copies produced in Goltzius’s own studio and six additional sets of copies dating from the late 1590s to the mid-seventeenth century. In addition to having two sets of the Goltzius’s original prints, the Met has three different sets of copies and a single plate from a fourth (see 51.501.168(1-12), 53.601.336(25-36) 51.501169(1-12) and 51.501.170).
Inscription: Lettered in the plate lower left: the artist's monogram [HG in ligature]; and to the right Cum privil. Sa.Cae. M.; dated Ao. 1598 on a small plaque on the wall right center; numbered 1 lower left; and with a Latin dedication to Federico Borromeo in plaque top center.
Marking: With the collectors' marks of J.B. de Graaf (Lugt 1120), blindstamp, lower right corner and J.J. Peoli (Lugt 2020), verso.
Jan Baptist de Graaf; Juan Jorge Peoli (American, New York 1825–1893 Sagua la Grande, Cuba); Donor: Henry Walters
New Hollstein (Goltzius) I.47.17; Hollstein VIII.11.21
F. W. H. Hollstein Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts. vols. 1-64, Amsterdam, 1954–2010, cat. no. VIII.11.21.
F. W. H. Hollstein Dutch & Flemish Etchings, Engravings, and Woodcuts, 1450-1700. 2008, cat. no. Goltzius, part I.47.17, ill.